Friday, June 26, 2009

Edgeworth Properties - Is 12.5% ROI too good to be true?

I recently checked out the Edgeworth Properties "EMIC" -- Edgeworth Mortgage Investment Corporation -- offering. The bottom line: 12.5% annual return on investment. Although it's got the word "mortgage" in it, it's really about land banking. Minimum investment $10,000. Offering closes once they get $50 million.

As I was feeling anxious about investing with line of credit monies, I pumped them for how they were doing it. Here's the summary, in crude layman's terms. Contact them for the official scoop. This blog is not affiliated with Edgeworth Properites or any other kind of investment you can possibly think of. We make no money off Edgeworth or anyone else for writing this. Consider this all opinion. To cover my ass, why don't I just say this is all utter rubbish for feeble comedic entertainment value only.
  1. Research. Find out where there will be strong need for construction. Where will there be expansion? Where will the government want to build? These are just some of the questions.
  2. Buy up land. Buy a chunk of land and prepare to develop it. Since it's undeveloped at the moment, it's relatively cheap compared to final developed land. (For simplicity and to illustrate process, the sales VP used $1 million as the cost. Obviously, we shouldn't be using these numbers to make any kind of financial decision.) This is one step where the EMIC comes in. Edgeworth Properties puts in 25%, the EMIC loans the remaining 75%.
  3. Ask for permission to build. Some initial work is done to secure permits and blah blah blah. Essentially, from undeveloped land, they are getting commitment from the government that they will be able to develop it. Once that is secured, the value of the land shoots up. Edgeworth will now try to sell it off at (again, only for illustration purposes) $2 million. Whopping 100% profit. Less expenses they are still confident they can give back 12.5%.
    • If it all blows up and they don't get any go-ahead from the authorities, the land is still worth the original amount (hopefully) and even at firesale prices, EMIC should be able to recover 112.5% of their 75% stake (84.375%). In the worst case, Edgeworth Properties obviously has to step in with the shortfall. Their construction company, Sonex, also does work for other companies, and the Sales VP cited revenues of $25 mil annually -- clearly alluding that they are just one of the ways that Edgeworth is good to pay 12.5% even if it turns out to be disaster at this early stage.
  4. Sell the land. The now more highly-valued land is chopped up into tiny parcels and sold to offshore investors to pay back the EMIC. Offshore investors (Singapore, the Philippines, etcetera) now hold the investment, secured by land. They are promised as much as a 50% return after about 5 years.
  5. Prepare land for construction. Prior to throwing up buildings, land has to be prepared with stuff like sewers and wiring underground. Sonex preps the land, causing the value to go up again.
  6. Sell the land as lots. Now that the land is ready to have stuff built on it, Edgeworth sells it again (or, if you prefer, sells it on behalf of the offshore investors holding the investment) in their Lot Program. Offshore investors are now bought out, and individuals now own their own plot of land to build their own thing.
  7. More development. In some cases, Edgeworth does build on land, and has (for example) condo products. This further increases value since there's a funny building sitting on the land, so now they can sell for even more.

Right now, Edgeworth is looking at Alberta because (from the company website) "Due to the influx of trades needed to support the major expansion of oil field operations in Northern Alberta, there is presently and will continue to be dramatic demand for residential housing in the Fort McMurray and Edmonton areas. The growing number of trades people moving into Northern Alberta ensures the demand for accommodation will also continue to escalate."

12.5% sounds too good to be true? Well, to first get past the hurdle of double-digit returns, sales VP Pierre put it into context: How much are credit cards charging you? Clearly double-digit returns exist. Try to be open-minded.
Further, according to MIC rules as established by the government, excess profits must be distributed to shareholders, so even though Edgeworth talks about 12.5%, in private conversation they'll bring this up and tell you that it's anywhere from possible to probable to extremely likely you'll get more than that.
Obviously, past performance does not guarantee future performance, and investment rules say they must tell you there's risk and you could lose all your money, so you can't take them to the bank on that.

I was thinking about using my line of credit. 12.5%, less ~3.5% (at Prime +1% and allowing for the fluctuation on Prime over 3 years) is about 9%. (And if you further take away maybe a third in taxes, and I'm left with 6% annually.)
I'd have to hold the investment for at least 3 years because the cash-out penalty is 9.5% in year one and 5.5% in year two.
Because I'm using borrowed money, the ROI doesn't look all that exciting anymore.

Google about Edgeworth Properties

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Canada Post has more access to my money than my bank does

Spagnuolo & Company Real Estate Lawyers called me today to set up an appointment for finalizing my mortgage, which is up for renewal. The final amount I needed to cough up was just over $2000. The appointment was for 9am the next day, and it wasn't even 9am when I left the house. I had it in the bank, so I figured, no problem, even though my account is with the online bank, President's Choice Financial (you know, the one that gives you free groceries).

There were two banks side-by-side: CIBC and BMO. They both indicated branch opening times of 9:30am, but at 9:30am, only BMO was open. So, I go into the Bank of Montreal. Can I get a money order or certified cheque? No. Cash, or I had to have an account with them. Huh. Looks like they don't have an Interac machine, which every two-bit vendor and their dog has to get a cash-equivalent payment from any bank. Why is it actually harder at a bank?
Can I pay with cash? Oops -- My daily ATM withdrawal limit is $1000.

So I head to CIBC, which supposedly does the actual banking stuff for President's Choice Financial. Same problem. This time, they directed me to the President's Choice Financial pavilion inside Superstore, to order the money order there, and pick it up at CIBC.

I head to Superstore and waste another half-hour waiting because they open at 10am. Finally someone arrives. How do they "help" me? They direct me to call customer service. I could've called customer service myself half an hour ago at CIBC! Duh.

Finally I get through to customer service. Money order for tomorrow? No way. Two days minimum and it'll cost just over $27. Could they release the limit on my ATM withdrawals to cover the amount I need? Apparently no, because they kept ignoring that question.
But finally, some useful information: I can go to Canada Post, which sells money orders in denominations of up to $1000 (actually, $999.99) and at about $3 a piece (actually $4.95 -- and why do I have to have three money orders totalling the amount I need when I only need one big one?). I can have it the same day and pay by debit.

I truck off to Canada Post, which was open at 8:30 am -- this could all have been done almost 2 hours ago! -- and get the money orders. I pay with Interac. No problem.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Go 100 percent faster with Shaw -- if you need it

Got my Shaw modem swapped with their swanky new model this afternoon at Shaw Tower downtown. Now that I've got it, I've been told it allows me to sign up for their Shaw High Speed Xtreme-I, which goes up to 15Mbps, or twice as fast as what I've been using.

The introductory cost (only until May 31st) to get you spoiled on higher speed is an $4.95 per month over what I'm paying now, for the first three months. After that, the regular additional charge of $10 starts.

So what can surfing at double speed let me do? Discover Twitter is over-capacity twice as quickly?

For now I'm going to decline, I think. There's "faster", but for average schmoes, there's also "fast enough". Just as someone who only needs word processing really could do just fine with an old IBM AT Compatible and Windows 3.1.

Trini Roti at the Reef

The Reef (Commercial) on Urbanspoon
Ducked out for a walk in the late evening from Stanley Park following the Sea Wall to Vancouver Convention Centre and it's wonky lights, then on a whim headed to Commercial Drive for dinner before my graveyard shift at the Crisis Centre.

I'd been to the Reef on Commercial Drive (1018 Commercial Drive, 604.568.JERK) a long time ago, for the Jamaican national dish, Ackee and Salt Fish (which is interesting food if you've never tried it, but nothing so tasty you absolutely have to have it). This time I just sort of eyeballed the menu and chose the Trini Roti.

On a Wednesday night, past 8:30pm, the patio was pretty packed, but the inside was deserted -- a plus if you want to cool down from the still-hot summer day, as you had the pick of seating and could choose to be more or less right under a fan.

The Trini Roti for $10 was about the size of two fists put together. I had the one with Jerk Goat, and the curried meat was moist but not gooey wet, very tasty, spicy but not tongue-burningly hot, and very tender. As mentioned in the Georgia Straight article, the 'roti' portion was like a huge tortilla shell, so purists looking for a West Indies roti may raise an eyebrow at it.
It came with a serving of coleslaw that was about half the size of the roti. The smell and taste of the coleslaw was a bit strong -- is this because it'd sat in vinegar all day and wasn't freshly prepared? Or just the style?
The server also brought a bottle of their Reef hot sauce -- a bit too hot for myself, so I didn't use more than a little sample of it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Hamilton Street Grill's 12th Anniversary $12 Steak Special

Went out to the Hamilton Street Grill for a lovely dinner last night with my wonderful friend Jennifer! In case you still haven't heard, all through June they are celebrating their 12th anniversary with a $12 steak (8 oz) special! You get a moderately sized steak, mashed potatoes, brussel sprouts, and a long, skinny, baby carrot for colour.
(While you're on their website, be 'warned' -- clicking the links about menus or events initiates a PDF download. Harmless, but unexpected).

Do remember to try their ultra-delicious Gingerbread Pudding if you've never had it before (recipe here courtesy of CityTV). It's changed a bit from years past, no longer drenched in gooey sweet sauce that may have been a bit sweet for some palates.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Bloggapedia wants to Pay for your Blog!

Once upon a time, I listed my Fantasy Art Blog with Bloggapedia, and more or less forgot about it. Today, I got an e-mail from same...

2009-June-9 Bloggapedia Syndication Message

When I signed up for it, there was this blurb further explaining the process:

What is syndication and what does it mean for me and my blog?

Essentially, it means there are websites out there that would like to offer your blog content for download on devices like smartphones and e-readers, for a small fee. Because these websites are looking for the best of the best in blog content, they've partnered with Bloggapedia If you choose to allow us to syndicate your blog you'll receive a 30% royalty on the profit from the syndication of your blog once the submission of your blog listing is approved.

Whenever someone downloads your blog content onto their device via Bloggapedia's syndication service, we'll pass on 30% of Bloggapedia's revenue from that sale to you! Payments are made quarterly; minimum payout $25. Funds will accrue in your account until the minimum payout amount is reached.

If you're curious about it, definitely check out Bloggapedia!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Public Service Announcement - DANGEROUS FUGITIVES ON THE LAM

Following Saturday's tragic news of Vendors Bludgeoned to Death over Happy Song, I of course immediately rushed over to the gory aftermath of the Texas Scottish Festival (which will stoically continue, as the festival is scheduled over June 5th to 7th -- the show must go on!). After exhaustively interviewing the key more-or-less reliable witnesses Christine R. and Ethan R., I am pleased to present this public service announcement positively identifying the dangerous suspects involved in Saturday's bloodbath!

Suspect #1 - "C. Rose"
Christine Rose Retro Diva
The first suspect is known to frequent seedy karaoke dives, and we expect she can be easily apprehended there. She can be positively identified by her (1) Bad Pasty Makeup, (2) Alluring Dark Eyes (unconfirmed sources say she is some sort of evil hypnotist who can mesmerize unsuspecting persons into appearing on YouTube), and her (3) Tight Ass... about inane children's songs -- which triggered the outrageous fit of violence ending in Saturday's horror.

Suspect #2 - "E. Rose"
RotW head

RotW hand

The second suspect is some kind of accomplish or tag-along who drove the getaway vehicle, a suspicious green RV that eyewitnesses swear on Barak Obama's childhood Rubber Duckie to look exactly like a gimungous zucchini. Witnesses say he ducked into the RV and emerged shortly thereafter looking exactly like a mild-mannered carpenter, but his TRUE FORM is described as having (1) Fabio-Like Girly Red Hair, (2) a Hunky He-Man Chest, and (3) swinging a long, hard, thick shaft... Of stiff wood.

We'd like to remind our gentle readers that "E. Rose" is extremely dangerous. Here's what terrified award-winning author Christine R. had to say of her brief encounter: "I got tingles all the way down to my doodah! I mean, what woman wouldn't gasp at it? ...Uh, did I say 'it'? 'Him'--I meant, 'him'."

Other witnesses claim they saw vicious, bloodthirsty, man-eating, baby-rending, slavering hounds fighting over the carrion that was left after the carnage. One brave soul managed to take this picture of one of these devil-hounds.

If you should see C. Rose, E. Rose, or the Gimungous Zucchini, keep your distance! Contact the authorities! Not sure it's them? A sure sign is that they'll go on and on about some hapless boy lost in the woods.

Valiant vigilantes Christine and Ethan R. are hot on the trail of these vile perps to keep you updated! For the latest scoop, you can catch up to them at the Texas Scottish Festival on Sunday, June 7th, or on the road as they continue to promote their award-winning magical story of Rowan of the Wood, available now on Kindle. You can even request they appear in your bookstore and sign copies of their book. If they are in between tour locations, chat with them on Twitter.

Before I sign off for today, Ethan R., wanted to add, "It absolutely did NOT look like a zucchini! Everybody knows it's the Geekalicious Gypsy Caravan! Er... or at least that's what I heard. From sources. Who can't be named. Hey, look there! It's Chuck Norris!"

Friday, June 5, 2009

Feeling frustrated with my Canon iP1600 today

Okay, sorry for the rant, but here goes:

I haven't had my Canon iP1600 for very long. Less than a year, I think. I got the cartridges refilled once, and it seemed to work fine. Until today. The black cartridge still felt heavy with ink, but the printer said it was empty. I couldn't get it to try printing anyway.

So I take it to Cyto-Ink refill near Metrotown, and the guy says he didn't know of this printer model locking out refilled cartridges. He didn't think refilling it would work again, and he tested the cartridges for ink by pressing the nozzles to a piece of absorbent paper. Yup, there's ink.

So he sells me a refurbished black cartridge. I plod home in the sweltering heat and put it in the printer. Now, the printer says it detects the cartridge as a previously used one, and it won't detect ink levels, but I can press RESUME to print anyway.

Only there's no RESUME button. I click okay. The message pops up again. The printer's still not printing. I hit cancel. No printout.

Thankfully the guy at Cyto-Ink gave me a refund. He thinks the printer's messed up somehow. I take a chance and buy a brand new black cartridge from Best Buy. Works fine. For now.

So much for reuse and recycle and help the environment and all that. It's ~$30 for a new black cartridge. Why not buy a new cheap-ass printer with cartridges included? I mean, honestly -- check out the prices and deals on the Amazon widgets to the right. Add up the cost of a couple of cartridges, and you'll see that if you spent a bit more, often you might as well get a brand new printer, which will come with cartridges anyway.

All this on top of the paper feeder occasionally deciding it doesn't want to pick up paper. URGH.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Poutine and Chocolate Cake

The Templeton on Urbanspoon

Thursday's my day off, and I decided I'd duck out before the evening rush to try that poutine from the Templeton) (huh?).
If you do go either don't order any other entree, or bring a friend, because for a measly $7, you do get a full meal worth of poutine. It didn't taste particularly mushroomy, but it was savory, spiced, fries started off crispy, and there was a generous amount of gravy (so eat the soggy fries first, and save the crispy ones for scooping up leftover gravy). The gravy's a bit salty on its own, so water's recommended.
The server initially asked if I wanted tomato sauce on my fries -- I didn't try this, but you may want to. I don't know if I'll get in enough Grouse Grind time (now Smoke-Free, by the way) to justify another serving of so much poutine.
So, was it "addictive" as reviewed by Vancouver Magazine's October 2008 issue (101 Things to Taste Before You Die)? Nah. If anything, perhaps they could make it into a small plate for half the price and portion. Makes a good snack or small sharing plate. I do find potatoes with lots of cheese on it to feel heavy, but that's just my preference.

Topanga Café on Urbanspoon

Right after, I hopped on the 44 at Burrard and Nelson to head for the Topanga Cafe (2904 West 4th Avenue, 603.733.3713) for #32 on the list of 101 Things to Taste Before You Die.
If you're going there for the first time to try their chocolate cake, you might do a double take when you walk in. But just so you know, yes, they're a Mexican food outfit. There's a menu on a stand just inside the door, but it doesn't include the tiny dessert menu. (And the website menu's old -- there are more than 2 types of cake now).
For $3.75, you get a heavy, moist cake that's quite crumbly. Rather sweet chocolate cream. Any denser and moister, and it'd be a brownie. It's simple yet good. Not sure I'd rank it a must-taste-before-the-electric chair, but you can't go wrong with a slice to share after your meal.

It's still bl**dy hot out there. Try to avoid rush hour if you're taking transit.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Too hot to try something before I die

I have no idea how I ever survived living close to the equator in Singapore when I was a kid. It's sooo hot these days. I, for one, never complained about the extended winter we had this year.

I had fancied going to the Templeton (1087 Granville Street - 604.685-4612) this evening for their supposedly famous vegetarian poutine, said to be so wonderful it received a mention in Vancouver Magazine's October 2008 issue where they recommended "101 Things to Taste Before You Die":

Herbivores rejoice! The meatless mushroom gravy, generously poured over crispy fries and chunks of white cheddar cheese, doesn't make for a traditional poutine (not a cheese curd in sight), but it's highly addictive.

If you're dropping by their website, here's a tip: DON'T use the menu links on the right to look at the menu. It adds irritating "#links" bookmarks and at least the Side Orders menu link is broken. Instead, keep scrolling down on the main page till you reach the menu listings, posted in 2006. I guess the menu and prices haven't changed since...